I had a couple of really great chats with people that I’d met for the first time at toddler group this morning. After introducing Dante I got talking with a chap about Dante’s “Inferno”. He’d read it and I haven’t so it was a little one sided but very interesting and it led on to a chat about reading, people’s interests, education, child development and many other bits and pieces. I really took something away from the chat later though. I was saying that I felt I was putting pressure on Oscar to read as I believe reading is one of the most “important” things you can do, both academically and for emotional development. It sounded weak even as I said it, not because I don’t think it’s important but because there are so many things that are “important” but nothing that is more important than respecting choices, and if it is so important then to associate it with nagging is not the way to go anyway. In this chaps case he said that he had been labelled as “Slow” at school and although he’d been attracted to buying books because of the cover picture and the “promise” of what was inside, he didn’t actually read a book until he left school. He even said that he thinks the boys Warhammer role playing games will feed their imagination in a similar way and he seemed to know a lot more about it than I do.
It’s funny because of course I’ve heard similar things many times before, and have been inspired many times by people telling me similar striking stories but sometimes the right person comes along at the right time and says things in such a way that it makes sense all over again. It’s almost like the way that I think when I am calm (and not actually with the children!) gets swept away with the busy-ness of the day. I feel like I am a different mother in my head than I am in my deeds half the time.
I even teased this chap, saying that not only hadn’t I read Dante’s “Inferno” but I hadn’t read any Samuel Beckett either even though he was my Granny’s second cousin and yes, once again he’d read some and was able to discuss it in detail in what seemed to be a very personal way (although of course he could have been making it all up as far as I know) . I was just taken with his obvious enthusiasm and his journey of self discovery which after all was one of the things that I was hoping to encourage in my own children by home educating in the first place. As soon as the boys came home I told Oscar that I will back off from trying to get him to read “proper” books instead of Warhammer rule books. I’ve just gone to kiss them goodnight and left them listening to Book 10 of the Lemony Snickett. They love their audio CDs and I love the library that makes it so easy to reserve them online these days.
The other good chat was brought on by Anton and a little girl who were playing beautifully together and copying each other with their dolls in toy buggies so I got chatting to the mum. We had a really interesting conversation about having more children and also breastfeeding. I had no idea that mothers are still not completely protected by law to be free to breastfeed their children in public. There is a new equality law that is coming in to place (hopefully) in October 2010 but in all this time that I have been feeding mine I didn’t realise that I was risking being asked to stop, or at worst being accused of indecent exposure. There are some incredible stories, for instance a mother was asked to stop breastfeeding a four week old infant on a beach in Norfolk by police. Incredible. What were they expecting breastfeeding mums to do? It would give a new meaning to stay at home mums. The next law passed in 2008, made it against the law to stop a mother breastfeeding an infant of up to 6 months old. Why the cut off point?
So just in case you, like me, don’t necessarily trust the government to go far enough on this one and support a life giving and natural process you might be interested in this Breastfeeding Manifesto.